From my perspective, this is the week of Julia Child. Tomorrow, August 15, she would have been 100 years old, and a new biography of her was published last week to coincide with her centenary celebration.
I have begun reading”Dearie,” by Bob Spitz, and from page one, when Julia carted her omelet pan into a small public television station in 1962 for the first TV cooking demonstration (executed on a hot plate that had been set on a stack of coffee table books), it’s a page-turner.
Why was the hot plate set on the stack of books? At 6′ 3″ tall, Julia was too tall for the cameraman to get both her and the pan into the shot, so Julia quickly improvised. That’s the kind of gal she was.
If you’re “of an age”, which means if you’re old enough to have watched her public television shows back in the 1960’s and 1970’s, you probably won’t think there’s anything especially exciting about her life story.
How mistaken you would be.
Julia was a trail blazer, a nonconformist, a behemoth.
She was inordinately passionate: about food, her husband Paul and cats. (Cat lovers will want to peruse another newly published book about her lifelong affection for felines.)
If you cook and/or eat, this is a book you will gobble up. If you are at all interested in the 20th century coming-of-age of American women, Julia is a consummate role model. If you are into spy thrillers, surprise, surprise, you’ll find yourself hooked. (She worked for a spy agency during World War II!)
My best friend Michael and I have compiled a list of people we’d invite to the ideal dinner party. Julia would take her rightful place at the head of the table, and I wouldn’t be afraid to serve her a dinner that I had cooked because Julia wasn’t a food snob. She just loved good, real food. She was as thrilled with a well-prepared hamburger as she was boeuf bourguignon.
Tomorrow night at Aixois, a French restaurant in Kansas City, we will lift our glasses in a toast to the woman who made me want to be a better cook.
Happy Birthday, Julia.